- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 20, 2006

Michael A. Brown says that, as D.C. mayor, he would stop construction of the Washington Nationals’ baseball stadium on South Capitol Street and instead would refurbish RFK Stadium for the team.

“The city is going to build a stadium for the team or refurbish, from my standpoint. … I think the city should’ve selected the location. I don’t think [Major League Baseball] should’ve forced us as to where,” Mr. Brown said during an interview with editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

“When this deal is done, it’s going to be $1 billion. What I’d like to do is reprogram some of those dollars to other things here in the District of Columbia and at the same time refurbish RFK.”

Mr. Brown, a lobbyist, is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor in the Sept. 12 primary.

He said he plans to hold a press conference this week to provide details about his plans for refurbishing RFK, refinancing the stadium and redistributing bond dollars that are funding the South Capitol Street stadium project.

Mr. Brown acknowledged the apparent difficulties in gaining the approval of all interested parties for a new stadium deal but said he can do it. “I didn’t say it was easy, and there are a lot of different moving pieces.”

Refurbishing RFK is just a part of his economic development plan, which also includes attracting small and large businesses, capping property taxes for most residents, eliminating property taxes for seniors and scrapping income taxes for lower-income residents.

“The more development there is, the more people can get hired; the more businesses there are, the more folks I can tax,” he said.

Mr. Brown said he also would work to revamp the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) by motivating employees and making it easier for businesses to obtain licenses.

“I’d rather assume that businesses are doing things the right way than put so many hurdles before them to get licensed,” he said, citing his success in motivating DCRA workers to approve licenses for fights when he was the city’s boxing commissioner.

Speaking more about his vision for the city than his proposed policies, Mr. Brown said education would be a top priority in his administration. As mayor, he would help limit the public schools superintendent’s appearances before Congress while helping parents connect with their children and motivating students to learn, he said.

“We need to make education a No. 1 priority,” he said. “I think there’s a social issue around education where our young people do not value education anymore.”

Mr. Brown said that motivating children to learn requires the same “attitude adjustment” as reducing crime on D.C. streets.

“I think you could put a police officer on every corner of the city and have all the citizen watch groups and all the Orange Hat groups you want, as long as some of our young people don’t feel any hope, have opportunity, feel any love at all in this city, they’re going to commit crime,” he said. “The city needs an attitude adjustment.”

Mr. Brown said he would remove emergency medical services (EMS) from under the purview of the fire department. The new agency would not require new funding, but rather take part of the fire department’s budget.

“EMS needs to be an independent branch but working with the fire department, working with the police department,” he said. “This way EMS can have their own, and if they mess up their own budgetary systems, we can find the guilty party.”

Mr. Brown said he would create a city office to “advocate” across the country for D.C. statehood.

“We will have a fully funded statehood office and have a person that wakes up every day thinking about statehood,” he said. “We’re going to have to have some court battles. This is part of that courage issue; we’re going to have to fight.”

He said he would not use the term “lobby” to describe the statehood office’s mission.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits the District from using city or federal dollars to lobby for statehood.

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